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European Stocks Close On Strong Note

European markets closed higher on Wednesday, reacting to upbeat earnings reports from some top name European and U.S. companies.

Travel and leisure stocks rebounded after recent string of losses on worries about the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant. Investors looked ahead to the European Central Bank's policy meeting on Thursday for directional cues.

The ECB is expected to adjust its forward guidance, reflecting the new 2% inflation goal adopted by the central bank under the new strategy unveiled earlier this month.

The new strategy allows the ECB to retain interest rates at record lows for longer periods, while tolerating higher inflation.

ECB President Lagarde remarked last week that the PEPP program would continue until "at least" March 2022.

A positive reaction to strong earnings from some top U.S. companies, including tech giant IBM Corp., HCL Healthcare, Halliburton and J.B. Hunt Transport Services also contributed to markets uptick.

The pan European Stoxx 600 moved up 1.65%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 climbed 1.7%, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 surged up 1.36% and 1.85%, respectively. Switzerland's SMI gained 0.64%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden ended sharply higher.

Czech Republic, Iceland, Poland and Russia also closed on a strong note, albeit with less pronounced gains.

In the UK market, Next shares climbed 7.5% after the company raised its full-year profit forecast and announced a special dividend.

Antofagasta gained 4.25% after maintaining its full-year production guidance.

Rolls-Royce Holdings gained 7.75%. Whitbread, Compass Group, IAG, Intermediate Capital Group, 3i Group, Associated British Foods, Land Securities, ITV, Anglo American Plc, British Land Co., Glencore, Flutter Entertainment, JD Sports Fashion, M&G, Prudential, Melrose Industries and IHG gained 3.75 to 6%.

Royal Mail declined 2.7% after the company said parcel deliveries slowed in the last quarter as COVID restrictions eased. Polymetal International and Avast shed about 1.9% and 1.45%, respectively.

In France, Sodexo climbed 5.8%. Safran, Publicis Groupe, Unibail Rodamco, Renault, Airbus, STMicroElectronics and ArcelorMittal gained 3.4 to 5%. Technip, Societe Generale, Accor, Credit Agricole, Air France KLM, Thales, BNP Paribas, Valeo, Vivendi and Faurecia also rose sharply.

In the German market, MTU Aero Engines, Deutsche Bank, Thyssenkrupp, Munich RE, Infineon Technologies, Volkswagen, Allianz, Lufthansa, Deutsche Telekom, Puma, Siemens and Covestro gained 2 to 4.5%.

Daimler, which drifted lower early on in the session, weighed down by a warning that a global shortage of semiconductor chips will continue in the second half of 2021, rebounded later to close with a gain of about 1.1%.

SAP declined by about 2.5% despite raising its revenue forecast.

Finnish lender Nordea Bank climbed 3.6 percent after reporting a better-than-expected profit for the second quarter. Dutch semiconductor company ASML rose more than 4% after raising its 2021 sales outlook and announcing a new share buyback plan.

In economic news, the U.K. budget deficit narrowed in June as the economy started to recover, yet the borrowing was the second-highest on record for the month, the Office for National Statistics said.

The public sector net borrowing decreased GBP 5.5 billion from the last year to GBP 22.8 billion in June and was below the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast of GBP 25.2 billion.

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